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April 19, 2018  |  Login

Harpy Eagle
Harpia harpyja

What Are They Like?

The harpy eagle is one of the world's largest and fiercest birds of prey. Its impressive wingspan can measure up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide. Females weigh 16.8-19.8 pounds (7.6-9 kilograms) and are larger than their male counterparts, which weigh 8.8-10.6 pounds (4-4.8 kilograms). A distinguishing feature of the harpy eagle is the crest of prominent pale blue feathers on the top of its head. If it feels threatened, it will raise the feathers in an upright position. Harpy eagles are well-adapted for hunting and are equipped with extremely powerful talons that are useful for grasping and holding down prey.

Where Do They Live?

Harpy eagles inhabit the tropical lowland forests of Central and South America, including southeastern Mexico to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.

Did You Know?
The harpy eagle's talons are as large as the claws of a grizzly ear.

How Are Babies Made?

Breeding takes place every two to three years. Harpy eagles will construct a nest out of branches and twigs in tall trees, and lay one or two eggs. The incubation period last for about 53 to 58 days. After the first egg hatches, the other egg is usually ignored by the mother and never given the chance to hatch. The chick will usually leave the nest after six months and remain within the mother's territory for at least a year.

What Do They Eat?

Harpy eagles are carnivores, and prey on a variety of animals such as monkeys, sloths, opossums, snakes and large birds.

Did You Know?
Harpy eagles build large nests that can measure 5 feet (1.5 meters) across and 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep.

What Do They Do?

Harpy eagles are silent predators that hunt by perching in trees and patiently waiting for prey to come out into the open. Once prey is spotted, the eagle will swiftly swoop down to catch them. These birds are highly maneuverable flyers and can reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80 kph). Since female harpy eagles are larger than males, they tend to target bigger prey such as sloths and monkeys. Males will hunt and catch smaller prey in larger quantities.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the harpy eagle as "near threatened." Threats such as illegal hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation have taken a drastic toll on the species. There has been a sharp decline in populations in the northern ranges of their territories, and harpy eagles have disappeared altogether from certain areas.

What's Being Done?

The Peregrine Fund has developed successful captive breeding and reintroduction projects to conserve and restore harpy eagle populations in the wild.


Harpy Eaglev

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